Gordon D. Fee writes,
“I grew up in a church where the buzz phrases “eternal security” and “once saved, always saved” were bad news. people who believed so, I was told, even if they did not intend it, encouraged “easy-believism” and “cheap grace”; that is, people believed in Christ for salvation but failed to exhibit it in their lives. They were eternally secure, so why get uptight about how they lived? Only later did I learn that this languages was a popular distortion of Calvin’s perseverance of the saints. Calvin believed (right so) that God enables his holy ones, his saints, to persevere to the end, and in that sense they were secure–eternally. Unfortunately, what was sometimes advocated as Calvinism often did offer false security to unbelievers, people who wanted a passport to heaven without becoming citizens.
Nothing could be further from Paul’s perspective. Salvation has to do with both getting in and staying in. To get saved means to be joined to the people of God by the Spirit; and to be saved means to live in the life of a saved person. We are brought to life by the Spirit so as to live the life of heaven on earth, also by the Spirit–walking in the Spirit, being led by the Spirit, sowing to the Spirit. The Spirit who implants teh faith by which we believe (2 Cor. 4:13) is the same Spirit whose fruit in our lives includes faith (Gal. 5:22), meaning now “faithful walking in God’s ways.” Merely option righteousness is unthinkable.” (Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God, pp.97-98)
I appreciate how Fee makes two observations here: (1) the Reformed doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints is what Scripture in fact teaches and (2) some have, under the banner of Calvinism, taught a distorted version of this that is popularly known as “once saved, always saved.” Fee does not reject the classic understanding of the Spirit’s work in how believers will “stay in,” so to speak. But he also notes the problems with “cheap grace” (fire insurance evangelism) too.
I agree with Fee 100% here…
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.